What specific actions can you take if you want to implement "consumerization" at your company?

I had a chance to sit down with some CA folks to discuss their initiatives around the consumerization of IT (or consumer-driven IT, as they call it).

Last week while on the East Coast for meetings, I had a chance to sit down with some CA folks to discuss their initiatives around the consumerization of IT (or consumer-driven IT, as they call it). Since my focus has been on virtual desktops for the past decade, I didn't really know anything about CA. In fact I'd be hard pressed to name a single product of theirs. (Does Unicenter still exist? Or something about backups?) You can imagine that I was a bit surprised (in the good way!) to arrive to a room full of people who all wanted to talk about consumerization.

CA is actually jumping into consumerization big time. What's interesting is that they don't make the sexy stuff that end users see, rather they handle all the boring back-end stuff that actually enable IT shops to deliver consumerization-based services. (Think identity management, security management, data management, etc.) CA's conversation was led by Jackie Kahle (twitter | blog), and we talked about a lot of interesting things over the course of a few hours. (Look for more on that conversation and what specific things CA is doing in the consumerization space in the next few weeks.)

The most interesting part of the meeting was talking about what specific action items that companies can do now to prepare for consumerization.

In other words, most people think that "consumerization" is a a philosophy or a trend that's hard to take action on. So what we were thinking is that it's important to give IT pros who want to embrace consumerization very specific concreate next steps. But since consumerization means different things to different people, we figured that we'd have to start generic enough to appeal to everyone.

So if you want to embrace consumerization (whatever that means), and you don't know where to begin, here's the list that Jackie, her CA team, and I came up with:

Step 1. Assess

Like with all IT projects, the first step is to assess what you have before the project begins. Not only will that let you plan better, but it will let you define how you'll be successful in the future. When it comes to assessing your organization in your "pre-consumerization" environment, it's important that you get answers to the following questions:

  • Do users perform work actions from personal devices? If how, how often?
  • What types of tablets do users have? What applications to they use?
  • What types of phones do users have?
  • What applications do people run on their client devices?
  • Where do users store their data? Where do they archive their email?

You may be surprised at the results of this analysis if you do it in your environment. For example, you may think that you only have to support Blackberries, but this analysis might show that 60% of your users also have iPhones which they connect into the corporate email system.

The good news is that there are plenty of tools out there which will go out and scan the devies and networks, and they'll tell you what applications users actually use on a daily basis. So your assessment needn't be difficult. I wrote about these tools on SearchVirtualDesktop a while ago. The two I like are Lakeside Software's Virtual Migration Planner (VMP) and Liquidware Labs Stratusphere Fit.

I would imagine that you'd also have to survey your users, or maybe check your Exchange Outlook Web Access and ActiveSync logs to see what kind of devices they use to get their email.

Step 2. Pull together departments

The second step to "adopt consumerization" in your organization is to understand that it's a cross-department initiative. Truly embracing user choice requires coordination from the directory servies owner, device management, application delivery, security, identity... really the list goes on. The companies who are successful with consumerization are those to make a high-level strategy which spans departments and that are able to quickly react to what users want.

Step 3. ???

After you assess your current environment and pull together your team, what's next? Do you start looking at specific technology and products? Or is there anything I'm missing here? If someone tells you that you have to "do consumerization" for your company, what would you do first?

Join the conversation


Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

From people I speak to, 1 question that comes up, is who owns the service, but from what you have said it will take a wide team to deliver successfully, so these people are going to have to rethink the IT dept, as the model to manage and support Consumerisation is totally different to that of a standard company, have you any thoughts in to how this may be managed?

Also great article




Depending on what you’ve discovered your users are already doing and what the LOB’s have as priorities, I always think that focusing on long-hanging fruit first is the way to go. Some ideas: 1) empower your users through self-service – whether this is a straight-forward service catalog or a full-blown enterprise app store, make it easy for them to get the apps they are already sourcing on their own (plus you will be able to track them better); 2) shift from controlling users to securely enabling them -- apply knowledge about who is accessing sensitive information and how they are using and use content-aware IAM to make authorized access simple and effective (while giving users more endpoint device choice).


Interesting that CA of all people is finally getting into what we have viewed as the secret missing piece to making private cloud a real success.  Standard runbook automation and self-service cloud service catalog tools that do not understand exactly who the user is in the context of their particuliar business unit's rules, location requirements, SLAs, etc. results in an endless loop of additional service catalog entries with subtle variations in properties, settings policies, etc.  The result is an endless list of redundant catalog entries that look a lot alike except for a single property difference.  IT must then manage all of the assignments that go along with it.  It's basically untenable.  

What we have seen in our customers is they know what they want to do for service cataloging and know where to go for information to create a personalized service, but haven't had a way to tie those together.  Our product actually was built to solve the specific problem of consumerization in the private cloud.  It takes a hierarchy of resources from the fabric, business group and user level then dynamically calculates what is needed for that user at the moment they are looking for it and in the context of hundreds of items (location for example).  The result is minimal service catalog entriies that dynamically tailor to the user's needs a the moment they need them.

We know the VM vending machine isn;t a real solution until the you can put your hand on the machine, let it scan you and dynamically change the offerings based on who you are.  User A gets Coke products, but I get Mountain Dew.  That's what's really needed otherwise it's just back to service catalog variation hell.


We need to fundamentally shift our focus from how we did things in the past and move towards a consumer oriented model. Need to understand why users are doing what they are doing and then get ahead of the curve...They save stuff in Dropbox because??? Maybe we can give them something that will work even better for them to achieve the same goal?

We also need to change the way we approach deployment and support. Where in the past we pretty much focused on a push model because we "knew" whats best for the user, in the consumer model, it is more about pull. So provide services and application in more of a store or consumer oriented model where they can come in and choose what they need. Pretty sure that Skype never had to send techies out to end-users to go and install Skype, or the latest updates...They rely on the end-users to do that...

Brian and co touched on this various times...We need to embrace consumerization and really treat our users as consumers and allow them to consume our services.

Brian posted a tweet earlier today about FUIT and how he brought a cheap $80 printer into the environment...The question we as IT need to ask would be why it was even necessary for him to go do that? Should we not provide him with those services to consume in the way he need to and thus in the end also still retain some kind of control?

Just thinking out loud here ;)

Great site!